Money, Chat and Crowdfunding

We’re opening up the week this week with a random links post – just as a bit of a difference!

So, if you fancy something short and interesting to read (or in one case watch), read on!

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A Surprise New Contender In The MMO World?

There’s a surprise new hit in the making in the MMO world – or so it seems.

Yes, after the failures of recent Final Fantasy games, a lot of people (including me) had given up on the franchise. But the reviews coming out of the latest installment, the MMO A Realm Reborn, are startling – it seems like Final Fantasy might, indeed, have risen from its own ashes.

Should you give it a try? Well, here’s the latest…

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Friday Links: Flex Raiding, Guild Leading and more

Only two weeks until the final raid of Mists of Pandaria – where does the time go?

Here’s our usual round-up of great blog posts that haven’t been about the hot topics of the week!

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The Subscription Model is BACK! Wildstar and TESO – What Bloggers Think

Well, I didn’t see that one coming. Yes, the subscription model is back. Both Wildstar and The Elder Scrolls Online have announced that they’re going to be primarily subscription-based, with WildStar also offering an EVE-like “CREDD” that can theoretically be earned in-game to pay for one’s subscription.

It’s not hard to see why, from a business sense. You replace the frightning nebulousness of the F2P model with a solid, predictable cash-flow.

But will it work? That’s what the blogosphere has been wondering…

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Friday Link Roundup

It’s Friday already!

And here’s our semi-usual collection of great articles that didn’t fit into any of the major themes of the week.

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Friday Link Roundup: Kickstarter woes, Virtual Lives

Yep, it’s Friday again – and that means a round-up of other interesting links from the week!

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The Tower Of Azora, In 2005 And Today

Milady at Hypercriticism writes a fascinating post on a single, tiny facet of World of Warcraft that many ex- and current players will remember: the Tower of Azora.

She’s looking at how WoW’s game design has changed, and how, in particular, Blizzard’s world-building has changed.

What would the Tower of Azora had Blizzard decided to fully incorporate it in their Cataclysm remake? Milady attempts to answer that question in a post that’s thought-provoking whether you agree with her or not:

“If Blizzard had cataclysmed Azora, they would have had it explained out to passers-by, they would have stripped it naked for the player to stare and yawn, commodified it into a quest hub. No enchanting trainer at the top of it: what for? Every profession is now found in the capital. No more inconvenient trailing back and forth.

They ironed out Azeroth. Every thing that stood out as unique was pressed down upon the flat surface of convenience. In so doing they turned a world with its peaks and valleys into a two-dimensional print. Following the creed of balance they made everything equal: nothing harder or more desirable, nothing different. Enchanting, with its inaccessible trainers and excessive material expenditure, and its grindy furbolg reputation that granted a much-coveted recipe only a few obtained, and with it fame and clients. Then they made each class equal in what they could do, so that nobody was discriminated in the basis of being a paladin without crowd control. The saddest of these equanimities was the shadow priest that now just did raw dps. Tanking and healing styles were fused into one big blob.

This did not only affect the enjoyment of the gameplay – it also changed how players viewed the world. The shadow priest was more effective now that he could put out more damage, but he was no longer fulfilling a unique role, different from all the rest. He might as well be firing darkened fireballs. They ‘balanced’ the gameplay to the detriment of the world.

Read the rest of “The Tower Of Azora And EQNext” »

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Friday Links: Proving Grounds, Faction Walls and More

Sorry for the silence this week – personal matters have meant that I’ve been unexpectedly AFK.

But I have managed to get back here in time to do a Friday roundup! So, here’s the stuff that caught my eye over the last 24 hours:

  • The Grumpy Elf wrote a great piece about WoW’s upcoming Proving Grounds – as someone who has been calling for a benchmark for players for a while, he’s definitely one of the people Blizzard has to convince with this new feature. Did they?

    Read “Will Proving Grounds Help or Hurt?” »

  • Bhelgast writes a really interesting piece about the walls between in-game factions, and whether they’re actually necessary. Looking at games from Everquest to The Elder Scrolls, this one’s an informative and eye-opening read.

    Read “Abolish Faction Walls” »

  • Defying the latest news about WoW’s subscriber count, The Godmother looks back in the history of what Blizzard have said about future expansions to predict WoW’s next adventure.

    Read “Who Wants To Live Forever?” »

See you next week, when hopefully things will be well and truly back to normal – and I suspect we’ll be hearing about WoW’s subscriber loss and Blizz/Activision going independent…

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Lore, Grouping, And Made For The Role

And to round off the week, here are some of the other links that caught my eye!

It’s a quiet time in blogging right now – although I don’t see the “MMO Blogging Is Dying” malaise that other people are talking about – but there’s still a fair bit of interesting writing out there!

  • Rowan Blaze looks at the lore of The Secret World – this week looking into the real-world legends, folklore and esoterica behind golem-users the Guardians of Gaia.

    Read Lookin’ For Lore: Guardians of Gaia

  • The Grumpy Elf returns to a topic he’s considered before, asking if everyone has a role that they just fit perfectly in MMORPGS.

    Read Made For The Role »

  • And Keen and Graev offer some design suggestions, today looking at grouping in MMOs – how some games have made it more interesting in the past, and what developers of the future can do.

    Read How To Make Grouping More Fun »

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Hope For The Time-Poor

What if you didn’t have to be online at the same time as everyone else to raid?

That’s the question Stubborn asks – well, one of them – in this fascinating look into the future and the past of gaming.

He’s asking what might seem like a silly question at first – when we moved from turn-based gaming into the realm of real-time, was it worth it? And might we be going back the other way soon?

“At first glance it may seem ludicrous to try to play a 500 turn Civ game one dragging turn at a time, but that was completely standard for a long time. Chess games were played that way, online “pen and paper” RPGs were played by email or by forum post. There were many complaints then about how long it took, and about how if one person was slower than others, it dragged everyone else down, and those were legitimate concerns, but what we found in the opposite wasn’t much better.

Ferrel writes in his excellent book The Raider’s Companion of some of his early raiding experiences in EQ, where raid bosses were all world spawns and server dominance went to the guild who was ready at the drop of a hat – at any time of night or day – to hop on and kill it when it spawned. He writes about having people call at 3 or 4 a.m. when he had work next day as part of a phone tree to get everyone up and logged in to kill the bosses.

I sincerely applaud him and all his guildies for such dedication, but to me, that’s madness. That to me epitomizes what engendered the asocial MMO behaviors like enforced parallel play or solo dungeons. Sometimes the social stresses of having to be in a certain place at a certain time are just too great for a leisure activity, and you end up with situations like what PA described in their The Guildfather comic. In the post that accompanied the comic, the oft-quoted description of MMOs as “a vortex of social obligations” first came to my notice. I’ve used it a lot since, and I think the above trends are all backlashes to that idea of the “always available online” world.”

Read the rest of “The Return Of Asynchronous Gameplay” »

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